On the 24 July, the team at the High Street Dental Practice, including prinicipal dentist Jaspal Sandhu, dedicated an entire afternoon to examining Belarusian children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
The visit was organised by The Friends of Chernoybl, an ecumenical group working to help disadvantaged children suffering from the aftermath of the nuclear disaster zone. The children were treated to facepaints and sweets as well as valuable dental care.
Jaspal said: 'The children's lives have been the polar opposite to what ours have been. There is no money in the country so access to dentists there are limited. This scheme gives children an opportunity to experience things they wouldn't usually.'
Still 27 years after the Chernobyl crisis, over 70% of radiation affects the population of Belarus, resulting in 800,000 children in Belarus and 380,000 in the Ukraine at a high risk of developing cancer of leukemia.1 Children are encouraged to leave their landlocked homeland, bordering Ukraine, Russia and Poland, during the summer as the settled dust means radiation levels are at an all-time high.
Jaspal said: 'Everybody at the practice was there to lend a hand. We had two dentists working and two hygienists.'
The children were also extremely nervous. Jaspal adds: 'I was told "painfree" was not considered part of their vocabulary.
'But we had arranged a fun welcome for the children, and I must pay particular thanks to Rumy Scholes, our resident face painter, and Anne Borkwood, our photographer. Both of whom gladly devoted their time free of charge.
'In our present climate of benchmarking almost everything we do – hourly rates, UDA’s waiting times, etc – it was nice to let our hair down and do what we do best.'
(1) Information found on The Friends of Chernobyl website: www.focc.org.uk.